As humans, we’re wired for connection. So, being asked to social distance during the Coronavirus pandemic has been hard for many. Maybe, you miss things like visiting with friends and family, going out to social events, or get-togethers for special occasions. That’s very understandable.
Now, the country is slowly re-opening. In Georgia, most establishments have reopened, children, teens, and college students are going back to school, and many have returned to work at their office. But, we are still being advised to mask-up and social distance.
Navigating Social Situations While Social Distancing Can Be Anxiety Producing
For many, issues surrounding social distancing and COVID protocols (like masking) have been challenging to navigate. For example, I have had several clients and friends share that it’s caused friction between them and their family and friends. It’s hard to know how to navigate social situations such as parties, weddings, baby or bridal showers, playdates, and family visits. Lots of my clients have asked for suggestions on how to talk to their friends and loved ones about their COVID preferences to minimize potential conflict. Today, I would like to share my thoughts and suggestions with you., I hope I will be able to provide you with some guidance on how to maintain your boundaries while navigating a world where social distancing is still a factor to consider.
COVID-19 Made Socializing Challenging
I have heard several stories of people having to deal with unprecedented issues regarding social distancing and COVID protocols lately. It breaks my heart to hear of brides having to uninvite guests to their weddings to keep the guest count low. Or, families going through conflict because some members don’t feel comfortable gathering without masks. But, this is the reality of life right now.
Experts are still asking that we social distance and wear masks. Regardless of your beliefs, I am sure you have encountered an awkward social situation or two during this time. Maybe, you’ve had friends ask you to get together, and that made you uncomfortable because you know their family is taking risks that yours is not. Or, perhaps, you’re an essential worker and you don’t want to risk getting together with others due to possible COVID exposure. Knowing what to say in situations such as these can be really challenging.
Therapist Tips for Dealing with Awkward Social Situations and Anxiety
Maybe, you’re worried that you will say something to offend people you care about. After all, you don’t want to come off as if you’re COVID shaming. Or, you’re being pushed to do things that make you uncomfortable and don’t know how to assert yourself. You may have felt your anxiety level rise and feel overwhelmed. But, you can adhere to your personal COVID comfort-level and be polite about communicating your wishes to others.
Tip 1: Acknowledge the importance of their relationship with you.
You probably don’t want to hurt their feelings. So, tell them that you value your relationship very much. Explain that under normal circumstances, you would love to be social with them. But, right now you just don’t feel comfortable doing what they’re asking you to do. Reassure them that it has nothing to do with how you feel about them.
Tip 2: Communicate respect for their choices
Acknowledge their right to make different choices for themselves/ their family. Not everyone has to approach social distancing or masking as you do. Reassure them that you respect their choices.
Tip 3: Don’t go into too much detail.
You don’t have to share lots of details or reasons why you don’t feel comfortable doing the thing they asked of you. Sometimes, that may come off as COVID shaming or teaching. And, that can cause conflict in your relationship, even if you’re intentions were good. Simply explain what you’re doing and assert your boundaries.
Tip 4: Offer alternative ways to participate.
You can still maintain a relationship with your loved ones and social distance. Sometimes, that means finding alternative ways to get together. For example, a kind friend had to ask me to not attend their wedding, as it now had to be limited to family only. So, she politely offered that I do a reading over a live stream. I’ve also had friends call me via Zoom to participate in baby showers or to simile sing happy birthday. Perhaps, you could invite your loved ones to bring over a lawn chair and sit 6 feet apart in your driveway to visit. Ultimately, there are tons of ways to stay connected and honor your relationship, you just have to get creative.
Tip 4: Remember, you can’t please everyone.
This is perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind right now. Sometimes, you can do everything right, and people will still be offended. It’s unfortunate, but that’s their choice, not yours. As long as you were respectful and tried your best to be understanding, then you have done what you can.
If you’re having relationship challenges or struggling with anxiety during COVID-19, our therapists can help!
If you’re struggling to communicate with your friends or family, or need help coping with strained relationships, we can help. Our therapists are trained to help clients overcome issues such as these. Plus, we’re human too, we can relate to these struggles, and will give you realistic tools to help you deal with uncomfortable situations. We can help you feel confident asserting your COVID boundaries politely.
Begin counseling in Roswell, GA:
Let’s face it, COVID has thrown us all for a loop. We’re all navigating social situations we never anticipated having to deal with. And, most people, are doing the best they can right now. If you’re struggling with these issues, you don’t have to deal with them alone. We offer online therapy in Georgia to help you practice social distancing and take care of your mental health. Follow these steps to begin therapy in the Atlanta area:
- Reach out to our counseling clinic and schedule a consultation call with one of our therapists,
- Meet with an anxiety therapist to ask any questions you may have about therapy at Wellview Counseling
- Begin counseling in Rosewell and take care of your mental health while practicing social distancing!
Other Services Offered at Wellview Counseling
Wellview Counseling is an Atlanta area therapy center that offers a variety of mental health services to help you or your loved ones find healing and growth. Our therapy services include play therapy, child counseling, individual counseling, social skills groups for kids, therapy for postpartum anxiety and depression, trauma and PTSD treatment, chronic illness counseling, family therapy, and positive discipline parent education opportunities. We also offer online therapy in Georgia so you can take care of your mental health from the comfort of your surroundings. Contact our Roswell, GA mental health clinic to learn more about online therapy and the many ways we can help you or your loved one.
About the Author: Ashley Bobo, LCSW
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